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A review on conotoxins targeting ion channels and acetylcholine receptors of the vertebrate neuromuscular junction


A review on conotoxins targeting ion channels and acetylcholine receptors of the vertebrate neuromuscular junction



Acta Physiologica Pharmacologica et Therapeutica Latinoamericana: Organo de la Asociacion Latinoamericana de Ciencias Fisiologicas y de la Asociacion Latinoamericana de Farmacologia 49(4): 257-267



ISSN/ISBN: 0327-6309

PMID: 10797869

In this article we present an overview of some peptides extracted and purified from the venom of marine snails of the genus Conus. These active peptides named conotoxins can be used as research tools to target voltage-gated ion channels as well as ligand-gated receptors. Because of their relatively small size, conotoxins can be chemically synthesized and made widely available. In this review we focus on conotoxins that target voltage-sensitive sodium channels, voltage-dependent calcium channels and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors of the vertebrate neuromuscular junction. Emphasis is given on summarizing our current knowledge of their primary structure and their specific pharmacological actions at the pre- and the post-synaptic level of the neuromuscular junction. Evidence is presented for conotoxins that discriminate between pre- and post-synaptic voltage-gated sodium channels. Among these peptides, the mu-conotoxin family is well characterized by its ability to block selectively sodium channels in skeletal muscle fibres without affecting axonal and nerve terminal Na+ channels. Furthermore, new conotoxins like Conus consors toxin (CcTx) and conotoxin EVIA selectively target Na+ channels in axons and nerve terminals without affecting skeletal muscle fibres. omega-conotoxins known as highly potent and selective blockers of voltage-sensitive calcium channels have proven to be valuable in determining the roles of the various subtypes of channels involved in acetylcholine release from motor nerve endings. Finally, Conus peptides which act at muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptors constitute the most extensive characterized family of conopeptides that exhibit sequence similarity, different structural motifs and surprising diversity in their competitive and non-competitive actions.

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Accession: 045107829

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